Praying for Peace
We are offering a new experience during this Advent Season with reflections on the Word by Peruvian Dominicans. The international Dominican Family is focusing this Advent on a Month of Peace for the people of the Amazonia.
The First Sunday of Advent
Dec. 3, 2023
Is 63:16b-17,19b,64:2-7; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Mk 13:33-37
The Dominican Family around the world calls us once again to the Dominican Month for Peace, which begins this first Sunday of Advent and lasts until Christmas. This year, we will focus our attention on the Amazonia. During the meeting of the Dominican Family held during the first week of July in the Madre de Dios Region, in the Amazonian territory, we expressed various dreams and commitments as we set foot on this sacred land that welcomed us in its uniqueness, in its biodiversity, in its open wounds caused by the irresponsible actions of human beings and in its hope for the defense of life, territory, and culture.
Advent, the liturgical season in which we contemplate and welcome the Lord who comes to meet us, presents us this first Sunday with the gospel text Mk 13:33-37. I want to highlight two phrases that in the reading as a whole are synonymous and ARE THE MAIN RECOMMENDATION OF JESUS: “Watch and be prepared” and “be vigilant” . . . We can ask ourselves what should we watch for? What should we be prepared for and be vigilant for? I remember an affirmation of our brother Timothy Radcliffe. OP: “In the Order, we are all called to be contemplative because we must all seek God who always comes to meet us.”
The Amazonia becomes a propitious place to find answers to our questions and our search. To contemplate the Amazonia is a gift and to discover God in it is a grace. The Amazonia gives us back the voice and the song of God through all its creatures. The Mystery envelops us and embraces us like the rivers embrace the forest, giving us back the freshness and vitality of those who find in it the source of life.
In recent times, the universal Church, through various events and the Magisterium of Pope Francis, is making the Amazonia visible, both with all its beauty and in all its ugliness and pain. There are several ways of moving from the periphery to the center that offer the possibility of an integral conversion at the personal, community, and institutional levels in order to continue dreaming and making a fair, fraternal, and peaceful world a reality. As our brothers and sisters of REPAM and CEAMA say, “The Amazonia is not only a region, but a paradigm that calls and poses challenges to new postures and behaviors with the imperatives of caring for the Common Home as a dimension of the evangelizing action and the respect and acceptance of the native peoples as interlocutors and subjects of an enculturated evangelization.”
Exercising attentive vigilance in the midst of contradictions, threats, losses, deaths, etc., present in the Amazon implies keeping in mind that the presence of the Order of Preachers in this territory is a mission entrusted by the Lord, and we have the responsibility to help the local church to model its face based on the essential features of the cultures that populate these lands. In this sense, let us remember what the final document of the Synod for the Amazon says: “Only an inserted and enculturated missionary Church will promote the emergence of particular autochthonous churches, with an Amazonian face and heart, rooted in the people’s own cultures and traditions, united in the same faith in Christ and diverse in their way of living, expressing and celebrating it.”
The Amazonia speaks to and challenges our prayer, preaching, study, and community life; that is to say, it speaks to our lifestyle, our spirituality. We are told of Dominic of Guzman, whose incarnated spirituality, of insertion in the world, progressed as he went deeper into the knowledge and compassion of suffering humanity; so too, we who follow Jesus of Nazareth, under the Dominican charism, must live and contemplate Amazonia as “a missionary option capable of transforming everything, so that customs, styles, schedules, language, and every ecclesial structure become a suitable channel for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for self-preservation” (EG 27).
Hence, contemplating the Amazonia with the eyes and heart of faith is an attitude of profound fidelity to God, to life, and to history. A Church “defender of justice and advocate for the poor” (DAp. 395), will have in our preaching the certainty that prophecy finds sure paths, because we speak and denounce without fear, we nourish hope and we commit ourselves to peace and justice, which are born of contemplative compassion, in the style of Dominic.
Brothers and sisters, believers and non-believers: every Advent we celebrate is an opportunity to show our attentive vigilance for life because to be vigilant is to take care of the only common home we have. To be vigilant is to discover that “everything is interconnected” and that we can all contribute to the care of life, based on trust in God who, time and again, entrusts us with the care of his creation. To be vigilant and prepared is proper for those who take responsibility for the treasure entrusted to them by their Lord. On this road to Bethlehem, may the Amazonia allow us to travel together along the great river of life with an attitude of listening and humility of those who know they are learners and seekers of God in everything that surrounds them. May we “cultivate without uprooting, grow without weakening identity, promote without invading” (QA 28).
Sister Zully Rojas Quispe
Dominican Missionary of the Rosary
Federation of Dominican Sisters of Peru